Why Chihayafuru shouldn’t focus on the romance

Image result for chihayafuru

I tried watching Chihayafuru last year and dropped the series at around the fifth episode. Yesterday and today, I marathoned the first season. In this post I’ll talk about the reasons I dropped the show the first time around, and why I continued this time. I’ll also just ramble about the series, which really is a great watch.

I dropped the show last year because I didn’t like the romantic focus of the show. Yes, I get it, there are a lot of karuta matches, but it’s irritating watching Chihaya reminisce about the Chihaya-Arata-Taichi team every other episode or her wanting to contact Arata after her every tournament win.

Also, I find the love triangle irritating because Chihaya’s crush Arata is barely even a part of the first season. Instead, there’s Taichi, who harbors a one-sided crush on Chihaya. It’s pretty clear that many- if not most- fans will root for Taichi, because he at least shows up in the series.

The romance plot also distracts from the actual karuta matches. I mean, now I’m more curious about who Chihaya is going to end up with than if she actually becomes queen.

So why did I keep watching?

I just tried ignoring the romance this time (aka tried to convince myself that Chihaya would end up with Taichi). Because the actual karuta matches are pretty interesting. The show did a great job making the competition seem exciting even when it probably isn’t in real life (I mean, it kind of sounds lame to describe karuta as “try to get the card that completes a Japanese poem!!”).

But I still prefer Hikaru no Go over this. (It’s a similar show, albeit without romance.)

What the show could have done with the romance plot

The show reveals early on that Chihaya’s motivation for playing karuta isn’t purely a love for the cards. Rather, it’s the fact that she now is motivated, that she now has a dream, that leads her to practice karuta so much. Her dream is no longer based on her sister (wanting to see her sister win the beauty pageants), but on herself.

The only problem is that Arata is basically the one who gets Chihaya to realize her true dream. So Chihaya starts to idolize him — she even writes a letter to him saying he’s like a karuta god. This actually could have been an interesting conflict for the show to explore — is Chihaya playing karuta to become the queen, or because Arata said she could? In other words, did Chihaya really find her own dream, or did her dream switch from revolving around her sister to revolving around Arata?

Final verdict

I’m going to wait for the manga author to finish writing the series and then probably just search up spoilers for who she ends up with.

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3 thoughts on “Why Chihayafuru shouldn’t focus on the romance

  1. aimori (@reikoninomiya)

    I agree with the unnecessary romance subplot. It distracts from the more interesting side of the show, which is the karuta matches. I start to get irritated when the show shifts to the dramatic love triangle in the middle of some episodes. To be honest, on my first watch, I was contemplating on dropping it or not, but decided not to for the sake of giving the show a chance. If only there were no romance in this; or even if there is, I wished it was just very subtle.

    Also, my mind can’t help but compare it to 3-gatsu no Lion, which, in my opinion, is a lot better than Chihayafuru. But instead of karuta, the main character plays shogi. AND the romance is pretty subtle and doesn’t even start until the second season.

    I also dislike the difference in character designs between the three main (Chihaya, Taichi and Arata) and the other Mizusawa Karuta Club members. Kana, Komano and Nishida look like background characters when placed next to Chihaya and Taichi. They could have been designed better. I understand that Chihaya and Taichi were supposed to be good-looking and all but the creator could have made Kana and the others look a lot better since they’re also MAIN CHARACTERS.

    I’m very passionate about this because of all the wasted potential route this show could have had.

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    1. coffeenlucia Post author

      Given your high praise of 3-gatsu no Lion, I’m interested in watching it now!

      Interesting point about the character design differences. Honestly I feel like many anime series do this though, where they highlight the appearance of one or two MCs and make the other friends in the friend group less distinguishable. Maybe it’s because if the other characters are too good-looking, the viewers will start wishing those people were the protagonists instead, lol.

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      1. aimori (@reikoninomiya)

        3-gatsu no Lion is really great! But unlike Chihayafuru, which I think is borderline a sports anime, 3-gatsu focuses more on character development and the MC’s relationship with various characters. Shogi is MC’s escape and source of income, rather than something he’s passionate about.

        I’d be very happy if you watch it, since it’s a hidden gem this season.

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